The Soufan Group Morning Brief



The Periodic Review Board has found two former CIA prisoners held at Guantanamo to be too dangerous to release. In a decision released Tuesday, the PRB found that Encep Nurjaman Hambali has no real remorse about his “significant role in major terrorist attacks and plotting.” A 2016 intelligence profile described the 52-year-old Hambali as “an operational mastermind in the Southeast Asia-based Islamic extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah” and the primary link between that group and Al Qaeda. Hambali was held in secret CIA prisons for three years before his transfer to Guantanamo in 2006. He has never been charged with a crime. The PRB also upheld the indefinite detention of Hassan Guleed, a 42-year-old Somali native who has never been recommended for prosecution. The two decisions raise the number of “forever prisoners” at Guantanamo to 27. Of the 60 prisoners remaining at Guantanamo, 20 have been cleared for release. Miami Herald, ABC
On Tuesday, a federal judge threw out a lawsuit filed by a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was repatriated to Afghanistan in 2014. Shawali Khan has continued to seek a judicial ruling that will clear him of accusations that he was linked to terrorism. Judge John Bates found the case was moot because Khan was no longer in U.S. custody. New York Times
VICE News: Guantanamo’s untold trauma

On Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said a military campaign to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa could begin soon, saying “there will be overlap [in the Mosul and Raqqa campaigns] and that’s part of our plan and we are prepared for that.” French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also said preparations were on schedule, but neither provided a definitive timeline. Along with Mosul in Iraq, Raqqa is ISIS’s main stronghold and de-facto capital in Syria. Reuters, Washington Post
New York Times: Mosul Fight Unleashes New Horrors on Civilians
The Hill: Sailor killed in Mosul offensive was 'behind the forward line of troops'
CNN: Battle for Mosul: Inside US outpost directing war against ISIS
Surveillance: An AT&T program designed to assist the Drug Enforcement Administration by searching through millions of the company’s stored phone records was reportedly used to help several government agencies with cases that ranged from Medicaid fraud to murder. The program, called Project Hemisphere, earned AT&T sums ranging from $100,000 to more than $1 million per year from law enforcement officials. Daily Beast, The Hill
Cybersecurity: The attack last Friday targeting the internet company Dyn was not the work of a foreign state actor, according to a new report from the security firm Flashpoint. The attack briefly took the websites of Netflix, Twitter, and The New York Times offline, and there was speculation that Russia was behind the attack. Flashpoint said the attack was likely the work of private low-level hackers. The Hill

Suspected ISIS fighters reportedly rounded up and executed dozens of civilians in a reprisal attack after Afghan police killed a militant commander in the remote Afghan province of Ghor, according to one Afghan official. However, other officials said the Taliban was behind the attack near the provincial capital of Ferozkoh. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. New York Times, Reuters, CNN
Reuters: Taliban attack Afghan provincial center, cut highway
Syria: Amnesty International has called on the Pentagon to share more information about alleged civilian casualties in Syria after a new report concluded that a series of attacks from September 2014 to July 2016 killed at least 300 people. A researcher with Amnesty said, “our understanding is that there have been far greater civilian deaths than have been accounted for.” Washington Post
On Tuesday, Russia said it would extend a temporary halt on airstrikes in Aleppo to a ninth day. However, monitoring groups said that rebel-held areas of the city had been struck in recent days. Reuters, The Intercept
Reuters: Turkey vows to press Syria offensive despite warning from pro-Assad forces
CNN: Rout of ISIS in Syria may open door to search for hostage remains

Turkey: A new report from Human Rights Watch accuses Turkish police of ill treatment and torture of detainees following July’s failed coup attempt. The 47-page report detailed 13 individual cases of abuse. VOA, AFP
Germany: Police carried out raids across Germany in an investigation into 14 Chechen asylum seekers over suspected financing of terrorist groups and links to ISIS. The raids, which included more than 400 police officers, were part of an investigation into a 28-year-old Russian of Chechen origin who is suspected of “preparing an act of violence against the state.” AFP
China: On Tuesday, the U.S. officials held talks with China about deeper coordination on counterterrorism issues. The State Department said the two countries discussed regional terrorist threats, aviation security, information sharing, border security, safeguarding human rights, and countering violent extremism. AP

NATO will press its member states on Wednesday to contribute troops to the largest military buildup along Russia’s borders since the Cold War. The United States is seeking binding commitments from its NATO allies to fill four battle groups of around 4,000 troops, as part of NATO’s response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. Reuters
Why the Middle East knows not to trust the United States: “When the United States fights its wars in the Middle East, it has a nasty habit of recruiting local forces as proxies and then jettisoning them when the going gets tough or regional politics intervene,” writes David Ignatius in the Washington Post. “This pattern of ‘seduction and abandonment’ is one of our least endearing characteristics. It’s one reason the United States is mistrusted in the Middle East.”
Allah Wants ISIS to Retreat: “Islamic State’s supporters are looking for explanations for why the tide of war has turned against them. The facts on the ground, after all, no longer support the Islamic State’s triumphalist slogan: Remaining and Expanding,” writes Cole Bunzel on Foreign Policy. “The Islamic State’s mouthpieces preach that this is a period of ‘trial’ (ibtila). It is not that God has ceased to favor the Islamic State, for that is of course inconceivable. Rather, divine favor comes with ups and downs.”
Is the Coalition Fighting Al-Shabaab Falling Apart?: “AMISOM is the only capable ground force battling al-Shabaab, and it is critical to protecting the highly fragile and reversible military gains made against the group. An all-out fracturing of the mission would have dire consequences for the fight to defeat al-Shabaab,” write Joshua Meservey and Kelsey Lilley on War on the Rocks. “The domestic woes of the most prominent troop-contributing countries vary, but all have the potential to disrupt the AMISOM mission.”

For cutting-edge analysis of the geopolitical events shaping global affairs, read today’s TSG IntelBrief: Turkey’s Ambitions in Northern Iraq

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